Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him & his progeny)
Title: al-Mustafa; Rasul Allah
Kunya: Abu al-Qasim
Father: Abdullah ibn Abdul Mutallib
Mother: Amina bint Wahhab
Born: 17th Rabi’ al-Awwal, Year of the Elephant/570 CE in Makkah, Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula
Died: 28th Safar, 11 AH/632 CE
Age at Death: 63
Buried: Madinah, Hejaz region of the Arabian Peninsula
Meet Prophet Muhammad
“A man from our people has risen claiming that he is a messenger sent by God… He insults our gods and considers our ancestors to have been fools! He’s corrupted our young ones and created a divide in our community!”
These were the words of Utbah, a resident of Mecca, to a visiting tribal chief named As’ad.
“Who is he?” As’ad asked.
“He’s the son of Abdullah…someone ordinary in social status, but from a well-known family.”
“Where is he?” As’ad continued to inquire.
“There… But don’t listen to what he has to say, don’t even speak to him – for indeed, he is a sorcerer who will bewitch you with his words!”
After some contemplation, As’ad decided that he couldn’t go back to his people before finding the truth about this man.
As’ad proceeded toward the mysterious man and said, “Good morning”.
Muhammad, son of Abdullah, then raised his head and replied,
“God has replaced this greeting with an even better one – a greeting for the people of heaven: ‘May the Peace be upon you’…”
“Indeed, this is something new. What is it that you call for, oh Muhammad?”
Muhammad then said,
“To witness that there is no god except God, and that I am the Messenger of God.”[i]
Sixth century Arabian culture held the concepts of trust and valor in high regard. As a people, the Arabs were known for their eloquence and exceptional poetry. But the light of these shining qualities could not pierce through the layers of rust on many Arabian hearts. Incessant tribal warfare impeded civilized development… Widespread superstition curtailed intellectual growth… That age of ignorance even popularized the heinous act of burying baby girls alive![ii]
Muhammad was an orphan for most of his life, as his father passed away before he was born, and his mother died when he was five. Muhammad spent the remainder of his youth under the care of his grandfather and then his uncle.
Muhammad’s upright character distinguished him, even at an early age. He participated in tribal agreements which aimed at ensuring the welfare of the oppressed and defended such agreements throughout his life. Muhammad worked as a forbearing shepherd and then later as a successful merchant. He quickly became known as, “The Honest One” and “The Trustworthy One”.
Muhammad was also a man of deep reflection. If Muhammad could not be found at the workplace or at home, then he was likely busy in contemplation and worship on the mountain of Hira. He climbed up to a nearby cave and would spend hours, days, and even months at a time, pondering the Truth of existence. Muhammad witnessed the reality that God is the radiating Sun of Existence… Without the Light of God, everything in the heavens and the earth would simply be in darkness – utterly nonexistent.[iii]
One day, an angel appeared to Muhammad and said,
“Oh Muhammad, read…”
The unschooled Muhammad replied,
“And what should I read?”
The angel then revealed the first verses of what would become known as the Quran,
“Read in the Name of your Lord who created; created man from a clinging mass. Read, and your Lord is the Most Generous, who taught by the pen; taught man what he did not know.”[iv]
Muhammad realized the grave responsibility that was on his shoulders. Under God’s command, he was to deliver the most complete prescription for success – the Divine Law by which God perfects the body, spirit and mind of humanity. This was the remedy to his society’s ailments and the good tidings of Mercy to the worlds.
Muhammad’s spiritual station as a prophet and messenger of God was aided by the rationality of his principles, his sublime character, and the miraculous nature of the newly revealed Qur’an. The eloquence, depth, and grandeur of the Qur’an baffled the Arabian poets. The Arabs could not fathom how any man could produce such perfection – let alone a man with no formal education. As an interconnected reality of principles, the Qur’an would also remain a miracle available to every nation, for ages to come.[v]
For thirteen years, Prophet Muhammad called the people of Mecca to the principles which God had revealed: Oneness, Divine Guidance, and Judgment Day. He invited the world to Islam: the path of submitting oneself to the Truth. Prophet Muhammad prayed that people would follow God’s directives because they were founded in God’s Absolute Knowledge of what was best. But in an idolatry-based economy, Oneness was bad for business. Moreover, blind loyalty to ancestors caused many Meccans to fight the changes Prophet Muhammad called for. Prophet Muhammad and his fellow Muslims were persecuted and attacked until God commanded that they migrate. They sought refuge in the city of Yathrib (which later became known as Medina, City of the Prophet).
In Medina, Prophet Muhammad was able to establish a society founded on the principles of Islam. It was a society based on kindness and justice, with every peaceful individual.[vi] Unfortunately, the peace was short-lived, as many groups forced the Muslims into defensive battles for several years. One benefit of these struggles, however, was that they eventually led the Muslims back to Mecca. The Prophet and his followers entered the city without any combat.[vii]
When the Muslim army entered Mecca, Prophet Muhammad told his former enemies,
“I say to you as my brother (Prophet) Joseph said (to his brothers):
‘There shall be no reproach on you today. God will forgive you, and He is the Most Merciful of the merciful.’[viii] ”[ix]
Before Prophet Muhammad left this world, he reminded people of the principle of Divine Leadership. He emphasized that the message of Islam would not be complete without the Divine appointment of a leader to preserve that message. Muhammad was the Seal of All Prophets, but the gateway of Imamah (Divinely appointed leadership) would remain open. Prophet Muhammad declared on numerous occasions that Ali, son of Abu Taleb, and eleven of his descendants were the Divinely selected Imams. These twelve Imams would live to preserve the Message, channel Divine Mercy to the worlds and guide seekers of Truth along the path.[x],[xi]
The legacy of Prophet Muhammad is one of Universal principle. Let us recall the account of Utbah and As’ad. If it were not for the insistence of As’ad to seek the truth, he may have been left in the dark about the guiding light of Muhammad. There may be many like Utbah in our day. Our challenge is to revive this legacy of principle in our daily lives. Prophet Muhammad continues to remind humanity with the eternal Word of God,
“So where are you going? It is just a reminder for all the nations; for those of you who wish to walk straight. But you do not wish unless it is wished by God, the Lord of all the Worlds.”[xii]
[i] Pg. 51 of Sayyid al-Mursaleen by Sh. Ja’far Subhani
[ii] Pg. 38, 46, 68 of Sayyid al-Mursaleen by Sh. Ja’far Subhani
[iii] Pg. 319-320 of Sayyid al-Mursaleen by Sh. Ja’far Subhani
[iv] Quran 96:1-5
[v] Pg. 428-431 of Sayyid al-Mursaleen by Sh. Ja’far Subhani
[vi] Quran 60:8-9
[vii] Pg. 200 of As-Seerah Al-Muhammadiyyah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani
[viii] Quran 12:92
[ix] Pg. 202 of As-Seerah Al-Muhammadiyyah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani
[x] Pg. 238-240 of As-Seerah Al-Muhammadiyyah by Sh. Ja’far Subhani
[xi] Pg. 4-6 of Al-A’immah Al-Ithna Ashar by Sh. Ja’far Subhani
[xii] Quran 81:26-29